One thing you witness before AusTebza starts creating notes from her bass is the power that oozes through when she’s holding her beloved musical instrument. This is the same power one would imagine Egyptian goddesses possess when they are holding their staffs, only here you can hear and feel the power when the music starts playing. Hearing AusTebza strike cords on the bass is something we’ve always treasured from her days playing with HHP (the most nostalgic sight of her during these times is on HHP’s “Mpitse” music video that won Best Video at the 2009 MTV Africa Music Awards). Watching her grow into her solo career has allowed us to make the connection with her as an artist all the more special.
A vibrant, energetic, and incredible musician, Tebogo Patience Sedumedi, fondly known as AusTebza “The Groove Queen”, hails from the North West Province where she was raised in Mahikeng. At age 15, all she wanted to be was a bandleader. It is through forming and performing with an all-female band, Deeva, that she discovered her love for the bass guitar. She is not only a bass player and vocalist but a songwriter too. After a twelve-year career as part of HHP’s band, AusTebza kicked off her solo career with the release of her debut album, Make A Difference.
Some of AusTebza’s career highlights include being Musical Director for the 2016 Feather Awards, touring Australia with Wouter Kellerman in 2017, bassist and vocalist for the Liberation Project which is a collaborative production with musicians from different countries such as Italy, Belgium, The United Kingdom, DRC, and South Africa as well as being the Musical Director for the Nelson Mandela Foundation’sChairman’s Recital in 2018. She was also the Musical Director for the 2018 Mbokodo Awards. AusTebza’s bass guitar skill and vocal ability is a talent that presents itself as rare in South Africa has seen her work with artists such as HHP, Gang of instrumentals, Maxhoba, Wanda Baloyi, Spikiri, Oskido, Kabelo, AKA, Proverb, Maleh, Swazi Dlamini, and KB Motselenyane.
We had a virtual chat with AusTebza about Motheo and all the special ingredients that went into the album we love. Enjoy!
It’s been a long wait (intentionally so) and we finally have a chance to host you for a #LAChats! Thanks so much for taking the time to virtually chat with us AusTebza. It is a true honour and privilege to have you share your thoughts with us.
Motheo was introduced to the world earlier this year, in February. How has the journey been since the release of your beautiful second album?
AUSTEBZA: Thank you for engaging with me regarding my music journey. The release of my 2nd album Motheo has brought me so much peace in a sense of having released what has been on my spirit for some time. I am glad people are getting to experience the much-intended nostalgia on this offering.
Motheo (in Setswana) means Foundation when translated to English. Why did you choose this specific name for this album?
AUSTEBZA: The name Motheo came about when I realized the Isa thread in the songs I am writing and the generic element of the album is for people to go back to experiences that give them peace, joy, love and clarity. Often such spaces are found when you are in a place of origin, home, where you get to just be who you are.
Take us through the making of the album: how the songs came about, the story in how the tracklist is arranged, and the creative process that you go through in the studio.
AUSTEBZA: Music is spirit and this usually translates in freedom. There is no calculated method or formula I follow besides following my heart. I sometimes write from a vocal perspective and other times from a bass or percussion perspective. The studio sessions were fun, direct and clinical. The session musicians were connected to the music and played their utmost best. The tracklisting came from visiting a behavior of how one behaves when you are home. You first acknowledge the foundation, what gives the foundation of its solid essence which is the community and its everyday issues.
We love the album cover, especially your bass guitar crown – a true visual representation of who you are. Tell us about the concept behind that and who you worked with on it.
AUSTEBZA: I am glad you love the artwork of Motheo album. The concept came from wanting to show who I am and what I represent without looking ordinary. I conceptualized the creativity from what the music is. The rots showing that from my neck represents my roots, connection and ability to grow. The head has eyes which have a steady glance of the future, ears which hear sounds and words that have the ability to shape the present and future. The mouth is a piece that communicates and verbalises everything. And the Crown says I am a queen, with treasure substance (Gold colour) and I love (the red roses) and the bass guitar (my masterpiece, my art, one of my superpowers and what sets me apart). This beautiful crown was brought to life by Ayanda Jiya who is also another powerhouse in the music scene here in South Africa.
The Arts & Culture industry has suffered immensely because of COVID restrictions and being an artist yourself you understand first hand how hard it has been. If you could be president for August, how would you do to make this impactful for women in music?
AUSTEBZA: Whew I think being a President for any duration is such a responsibility. I would launch programs that would showcase all the disciplines within the creative industry and allow us (women) to control the narrative. I would make sure you see collaboration between dancers, painters, musicians, sculptors, poets, writers, etc. And such would bring so much interaction of different energies that would possibly form a rainbow.
Motheo touches on gender-based violence (GBV) and the deterioration of family structures. Tell us more about how you’ve translated these issues into your music and what impact you intend to make (to the listener).
AUSTEBZA: The one element I love about music is the power it has. The power to make you listen, change your mind and even sit down to discuss issues. The way the music is arranged and presented compliments the message. This means the music isn’t overpowering the message. My goal is to collaborate with institutions that are for building of a better society and protection of women to bring to everyone’s attention the challenges we face. Music is powerful to unite us in what we are all striving for.
What can we expect from you anytime soon? Any virtual performances to look forward to, new music videos, collaborations or anything like that?
AUSTEBZA: I am working on 2 videos which I am excited about. I have virtual shows coming up as well. I have done production recordings which will be soon promoted. I’m looking forward to collaborations with other African artists and continue to spread hope, unity, peace and love.
We’re sure you’ve laid your ears on this beautiful offering from AusTebza and if you need to listen to it again you can find the album on your preferred digital platform here https://orcd.co/motheo. Powerful sounds are always accompanied by powerful visuals, watch The Groove Queen do her thing on Ke Lekile Ke Paletswe!